H.S. football preview: Jersey Shore at Selinsgrove

Jersey Shore PPG–14, YPG–268; PPA–17, YPA–275

Jersey Shore facts: Few District 4 programs have known each other better over the last six seasons than Jersey Shore and Selinsgrove. Since 2013, they have played twice a season, including in five straight postseasons and in four consecutive championships from 2013-16. Selinsgrove swept the season series from Jersey Shore last season, edging the Bulldogs, 14-7 in a thrilling District 4 Class AAAA semifinal. Jersey Shore made a fourth-quarter comeback against defending District 6 champion Bellefonte last week, but the Red Raiders won on a field goal as time expired. Linebacker Hunter O’Connor played like a man possessed, making a career-high 22 tackles, including 17 solos. The senior finished second among area tacklers last season, has topped 100 in consecutive years and made three tackles for loss against Bellefonte. Koby Peacock added four tackles and forced a fumble while catching a game-high four passes offensively. Peacock led Jersey Shore in receptions last season and is one of the team’s more versatile weapons. Quarterback Tanner Lorson was a dual threat in his first varsity start, running for 77 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 74 yards. Lorson is part of a new-look offense that has had to replace most of last year’s starters. One big-time returnee is running back Kyle Tomb. Bellefonte held Tomb to 63 yards last week, but Tomb scored a touchdown and ran for 1,662 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Josh Malicky is a player to keep an eye on as well. Malicky ran for 45 yards on eight carries last week and can be used in a variety of ways. Jersey Shore faces a tough early-season schedule and have games against Montoursville and Mount Carmel the next two weeks. With District 4 now using a new power-ranking system that takes schedule strength into consideration that could be a blessing for the Bulldogs with four of the seven teams qualifying.

Jersey Shore player to watch–David Tomb: A year after earning all-state honors, the senior defensive tackle seems poised for another big season. Tomb gave Bellefonte problems up front last week, making 11 tackles while adding three hurries. With players like Tomb and O’Connor, the defense has some big-time playmakers it can build around.

Selinsgrove PPG–22, YPG–243; PPA–32, YPA–293

Selinsgrove facts: A year after winning districts and coming within a 2-point conversion of reaching the state semifinals, Selinsgrove is one of District 4’s youngest teams. Still, Selinsgrove remains dangerous and led Lewisburg until midway through the fourth quarter last week. Running back Joe Kahn is the most experienced Seal back and ran for 1,114 yards last year. Kahn gouged Jersey Shore in a 25-6 regular-season win last year, running for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 71 yards and a touchdown last week. Freshman Danny Schoch could be poised for a bright future and threw for 85 yards last week, finding Ben Swineford for a touchdown. Swineford caught six of Schoch’s nine completions last week and Josh Nylund is back after catching 29 passes for 524 yards last season. Wyatt Metzger made nine tackles against Lewisburg as Selinsgrove shut down a potentially powerful running game. Selinsgrove has played in six straight district finals, winning four of those.

Selinsgrove player to watch–Nate Schon: One of the young players Selinsgrove is building its foundation upon, Schon excelled on both sides of the ball against Lewisburg in his first varsity start. Schon scored on a 59-yard run, totaled a game-high 81 yards and tied for the team lead in tackles (9). Schon also had a sack and a tackle for loss. Expect to see and hear a lot from Schon over these next three seasons.

Outlook: It is hard to believe one of these proud programs will be 0-2 after tonight. Jersey Shore has not been 0-2 since 2012 and Selinsgrove not since 2011. Whatever happens tonight, history dicates that these two might well cross paths again. Last year’s playoff game was fiercely fought and not decided until the final seconds. Expect something similar tonight.

–by CHRIS MASSE

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